5 Tips About Styled Shoots Everyone Should Know

November 13, 2019

When you're planning a styled photographic shoot, there are at least five things you should do to get the maximum result from it.

1. Get a timeline
When you're dealing with suppliers who would otherwise be working and getting paid for their time and effort, it's only fair that they know how long they need to be at your shoot.

So you need to create a timeline that spells out what time various suppliers need to arrive, what items will be shot in what order, and when the shoot finishes.

Some of this is pure commonsense. If it's on a summer's day shoot, fragile items such as flowers or food with buttercream frosting is best photographed out of the heat at the start or end of the day.

Some suppliers may have to deliver items to actual clients so they'll need to know the minimum time they should be present for their particular item to be shot, perhaps in a particular way.

For moodier shots, your photographer may want to shoot products on overcast days - can you get a long-range weather forecast? 

The time of your shoot needs to be nailed down to get the best results overall for everyone concerned.

2. Moodboard and list of everything being shot at shoot
A moodboard will help you decide whether the overall look is one which matches your company style while a list will make clear if you can physically provide the items/requested. 

A detailed list also makes it easier to credit and also prevents vendors' products going walkabout. For example, some florists actually want their flowers and foliage back at the end of the shoot and this needs to be detailed on the list given to all concerned.

A detailed list gives all vendors clarity on what's going to be included - or even what has been missed! For example, the master list may include candlesticks, yet there are no candles mentioned because it's been assumed they'd be provided or overlooked entirely.

You might see a list of items and notice that a themed product (perhaps that you produce, sell or rent) would be a perfect match. You can always suggest it to the managing stylist before the event. Afterwards is obviously a missed opportunity.

3. Labelled with supplier's name and address
You'd be amazed how many items are delivered to a shoot without any name or  address label on the box, let alone marked on the bottom of the actual item.

At the end of the shoot when you're desperately trying to pack items as fast as you can to get out of the venue (often, you will have an agreed time you must vacate for them to get it ready for a booked event), you don't want to be wondering whose items belongs to whom.

While virtually all the items at an outdoor shoot in a park or garden are brought in, they can be misplaced all too easily if it's at a venue location where fellow collaborators assume it's the property of the venue itself.

Once all the supplier have gone home, it becomes increasingly unlikely you'll see an item if it's not been carefully labelled. This happened at a styled shoot I worked on and there was an unpleasant series of exchanges between two of the parties for a few weeks.

4. List of social media credits
Make sure everyone involved sends you a list of their social media handles and website links BEFORE your shoot. In fact, it's a good idea to request the Instagram handles of those you'll be featured alongside before committing to a styled shoot.

You can quickly see their company's style and see if it gels with your own. You can work out if they're running a side hustle business, are newly established or been operating for years.  Sometimes, you'll discover they don't even have an Instagram handle and/or few followers, which means there are fewer vendors to help publicise the shoot!

Creating and sharing a social media handle list will help you to quickly compile the suppliers involved not only for the magazines and blogs you're contacting, but also for all suppliers to correctly and fully credit those involved.

Even if their item is not strictly in the photo, it's good manners to include everyone. You'll benefit from them promoting you, too.

5. Get your wallet out
Styled shoots aren't free and are often an advertisement by another name. Even if you provide your items for free, you aren't getting paid for them if they break. Even more common is a fee to participate.

Enjoyed this? See Why You Should Confirm Your Event Budget Before You Create A Moodboard.